While nowadays everyone seems to be surrounded with both material and metaphysical walls, the expansion of the new campus of the Budapest-based Moholy-Nagy University of Art and Design focuses on breaking them down and birthing unprecedented creative venues in the spirit of openness. Our vision for this mission was to provide such institutional spaces which can stir the academic creation-process towards new waters.
The project focused on expanding the teaching areas, redeveloping the garden and creating a research unit. In our concept we established the axis of the existing buildings and positioned the new structures at either end of that extended axis. At the highest point is the BASE building for undergraduates, then the old central building A, which accommodates MA courses, followed by the new hall and the university’s centre for innovation, named UP. Above ground, the different educational areas appear as separate, stand-alone buildings, although below ground level they are connected at different levels. Each unit has its own entrance; however, the campus has a funnel-shaped main entrance, which leads into the hall of the university.
In BASE (building B), the spaces of formal and informal learning were blurred: the BA students were given a relaxed framework for individual and joint creation through a diversifiable open space. Thus through this manual expansion and contraction of the space a pulsating flow is induced, where activities are much less zone-specific and more situational, stimulating the ’blood circulation’ of the MOME.
With its dark vertical strips hiding behind the white pilasters of the facade and the vertival glass elements running till the ground, the BASE creates a light illusion mimicking a rhythmic shadow-chain of trees. Through this contrast of light and shadow we were evoking László Moholy-Nagy’s famous experiments on painting with light. The cast glass elements distort and make the falling light beams uncertain, especially at the edges of the buildings.
The playfulness of the interiors is most notable: the inner space is not ’broken’ by the pillars, therefore it can be freely arranged to serve the creative needs of the students while trying to set up a timeless, neutral framework. The space can be divided with sound-insulating panels and acoustic curtains, thus encouraging students to invent, explore, arrange certain zones: to create installations, exhibitions, and use their imagination.
The static structure allows the building to ‘float’, as the ground is completely transparent, visually unobstructed and flows into the greenery of the surrounding park.
The structural solution of this 4,000-square-meter building is quite special: we used a technology which is common in bridge construction yet relatively rarely used in tall buildings. The essence of the concept was ’airiness’ which was brought to life by a tripple core reinforcement: the steel cores are suspended from post-tensioned monolithic concrete beams and hold the edges of the floorslabs.
The supporting elements therefore are not visible on the ground floor façade, but we can see the exposed concrete beams in the interior of the 3rd floor and the interplay of the suspended white acoustic panels and the grey of the floor slabs on the 2nd floor.
On all levels a brightly coloured kitchen space serves as the communal area, where the diagonal traffic meets from the two sides of the atrium through a bridge-like connection in the middle, surrounded by round acoustic panels that also act as indirect lighting.
To the south of this area we can find the smaller seminar rooms. On the ground and second floor there are the lecture halls, which can be freely furnished and separated.
In the other direction are the students’ ‘home rooms ’, the arenas of work.
These grand, easy-to-arrange open spaces can be used for both individual and group work as well as consultations.
On each level a central core has been set up with an enclosed modeling workshop, alongside a few smaller glass-separated project rooms where each team can work together on a project for a more prolonged period of time.
The whole building’s design is following an exact, reductionist concept providing an almost completely freely-formable system that is waiting to be discovered and inhabited.